The news spread quickly city-wide on Wednesday. Herbert Riley’s passing was equally shocking, unexpected and sad.
As a writer, who covers controversial political issues, I put a great amount of effort in keeping the friends I admire most off public radar. I often fear any public associations with me and my work, could bring some form of retaliation from Myrtle Beach city government or stigma from city insiders.
Herbert was one of those people I kept in confidence quietly.
Herbert Riley was a life long investor in the city of Myrtle Beach.
I saw him just a few weeks past, when invited to cover the news of Charlie’s Place winning an Emmy.
Herbert was all smiles ear to ear. Before his presentation, I told him privately what a great job he was doing preserving Myrtle Beach’s history.
After he spoke, we had a moment. I remember telling him, “Herbert, you are Myrtle Beach’s finest history. We should all aspire to be like you.“
Herbert was strong. Herbert was gentle. Herbert was wise.
Many locals are unaware of Herbert’s close ties to Muhammad Ali back in the day. Ali was outspoken, controversial, and probably the best heavy weight boxer ever.
It was because of Herbert’s ties to Ali that he understood me in a way few locals do. Herbert got me. He knew.
In my line of work, I keep many secrets. In over two decades, Herbert Riley never betrayed one confidence. It is still hard to believe he is not with us.
Herbert Riley left us a great legacy that a new generation can and will build on.